Today Zelador and I worked on the usual walk/trot/canter under saddle. Then I put the music “A Place in the Choir” on the tape machine and we practiced our line dance. I learned that he backs up much better if he’s parallel to one of the walls. Next I took off his saddle and set up the bean bag. Sue and I learned Monday that it’s easier for Zelador to sit if we have the bean bag upright, sort of creating a chair. Zelador knew exactly what I wanted him to do. He nickered softly and backed up slowly. When his hind legs touched the bean bag he didn’t try to step backwards onto it. He’d tried that yesterday with Sue and me. To help him understand that his feet didn’t need to step on the bean bag I stood at the bag as Sue backed him to it. As he lifted a leg to put it on the bag I stroked the leg and asked him to put it on the floor. He did.
Today he settled his rump onto the bag. Then he put his weight on his hind end and his hind hooves raised off the floor. I gave him a jackpot of treats and he sat there, comfortable and happy. When I asked him to stand up he was able to do it smoothly, no lurching forward. I wasn’t sure how he’d exit the bean bag and it was nice to see him rise easily.
I will get photos of this!!!!
I have to admit that I’m amazed that he can sit on the bean bag. I remember someone telling me years ago that it’s quite difficult to teach an adult horse to do this. My approach teaching this to Zelador has been a slow one. About a year ago (maybe two) a friend and I created a huge mound of shavings in a stall and asked him to back into it and possibly sit. We did this two or three times. We never got a sit and we never pushed for a sit. We rewarded him for backing into the shavings calmly and for trying to put his weight back onto the shavings.
Again and again I’m surprised at what horses (and this one in particular) can learn. They’ve mastered things that I thought were impossible. Allen Pogue’s website name, “Imagine a Horse”, pretty much sums up that there aren’t many limits when it comes to what a horse can do.